Yesterday, American Airlines and its regional carrier American Eagle were forced to cancel some 970 flights and delay another 1068 after the airlines experienced “intermittent outages” in communicating with its reservation system. The outages effectively shut down the airlines’ operations, stranding passengers and flight crews alike.

The airline, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, publicly acknowledged the problem about 11am CDT, and the problem was not fully resolved for another four and a half hours. The reservation system situation caused the airline to request the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to place a ground stop on its aircraft for several hours.

Late yesterday afternoon, American CEO Tom Horton issued an 84-second video statement in which he said, “We experienced a system-wide network outage, causing flight disruptions and inconveniencing many of you. And for that, we are very sorry.”

Horton went on to say, “As you’d imagine, we do have redundancies in our systems, but unfortunately in this case, we had a software issue that impacted both our primary and back-up systems.” 

The airline acknowledged that the "software issue" did not reside with the Sabre Holdings reservation system it (and many other airlines) uses, but with its own IT operations.

American has said that it will accommodate yesterday’s affected travelers. However, the airline also warns that although it has tried to get its aircraft and flight crews where they needed to be this morning, some residual knock-on effects may linger into today.

It was recently announced that when US Airways and American merge later this year to form the world’s largest airline, American Airlines’ legacy systems will be the ones used.

Given yesterday's events and United Airline’s recent experience, the reservation system cut-over period would probably be a good time to stay home or try another airline.

Photo: Max Faulkner/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram/AP Photo

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Two men fix metal rods to a gold-foiled satellite component in a warehouse/clean room environment

Technicians at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., work on a mockup of the JWST spacecraft bus—home of the observatory’s power, flight, data, and communications systems.

NASA

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